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October 2008

When weather takes on a life of its own

It's begun.  Already.  The questions gaining momentum today are "Is it coming?" "When's it getting here?" and "What's going to happen with that hurricane down in the tropics?"

Keep in mind, that as of this writing we have neither a hurricane, nor a tropical storm, nor even a tropical depression.  In fact, thus far we have an open tropical wave with no official closed surface circulation (that may change when hurricane hunters report back)- in other words, a cluster of thunderstorms.  Granted, it's an impressive cluster that's dropped over 10 inches of rain in Puerto Rico.  And, granted, upper level winds have been becoming more favorable with outflow improving, allowing for sustained thunderstorms.  But there are issues with this, too.  Not only is it difficult to define any center of circulation (recon aircraft is investigating - there could be a small circulation with limited convection just east of the Dominican), but wind shear is rather significant in the middle and upper levels both north and south of the wave.  Additionally, steering currents in the middle and lower levels are still from east to west, not a northward flow.

All of these factors argue against any development.  In favor of development is the already good structure of the convection, warm ocean water, and a number of guidance products - including all hurricane guidance products - that spin the system up.  In the latest frames of the afternoon visible satellite loop, it becomes evident that a small circulation may be intact, over land, over the eastern tip of the Dominican.  This is also where, in the IR satellite image here, enhanced thunderstorm tops are showing up north of the main thunderstorm cluster. 092208_tropical_wave_ir

Right now, there are far more uncertainties than certainties about whether this thing will ever even develop a closed circulation, let alone ramp up, and certainly not whether the storm will take one track or another if it does develop. 

But, alas, we as a society love something to watch and worry about.  Of course, there IS plenty that we could worry about with this storm - a forecast track into the Mid-Atlantic coast around Delmarva is one possibility that would be devastating for parts of Jersey, Delaware and MD.  A New England pass probably would go southeast of us but could bring a strong and damaging nor'easter.  But, before we get too carried away...we need a storm.  :)

Any thoughts on this, folks?  Comments are open on all the posts!


Sunday Night Prospectus, Week of September 21-27

Given that I work the Monday through Friday morning shift, it's usually sometime on Sunday that I sit down and look forward into the week.  The idea of this time isn't to nail down every detail of highs, lows, and exact timing/intensity of precipitation.  Rather, it's an opportunity for me to look forward at the big picture - a well-rested perspective, not bogged down in detail.  As the week wears on, I find myself getting bogged down in smaller forecast details, and this Sunday time of looking broadly into the future tends to keep me mindful of the big picture.

So, looking down the pike this week I see our Sunday evening line of storms waning, and drier air advecting in aloft - at both 500 and 700 mb - but 850 mb moisture lingers through the night.  With the surface front slowing if not stalling over Southern New England on Monday, this holds enough moisture for lots of morning clouds.  As the day wears on, the drier air aloft mixes down and eats away the low level deck, for increasing sun especially during the afternoon.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, ridging builds overhead.  Of course, it's as the center of the high moves east that the door may open to what appears likely to develop into Tropical Storm Kyle.  Having said that, there's a lot that needs to play out for Kyle to come to New England.  Certainly there are indications, especially in the Operational GFS, that Kyle may make a run to or very near New England.  This track would be a nearly worst-case track for New England, as it would come north up the Gulf Stream with no land impacts and warm water all the way.  That's not to say, though, that we're looking at a worst-case scenario, as the intensity guidance is in excellent agreement on a slow and rather linear strengthening to a category one hurricane by 120 hours.  What is not well agreed upon, however, is the aforementioned track.  While the Operational GFS may be taking the attention, the guidance is all over the place...as well they should be!  The most significant player is the cold front turned stationary that moves across the Southern Mid-Atlantic and drapes across the Atlantic, north of Kyle.  THIS front will be the big problem that is more certain - flooding rains for the Carolinas where 6-10" of rain is possible midweek.  At that point, there is vast disagreement on whether the storm stalls and waits for the southerly steering flow to take hold, coming into New England next weekend (historically unfavored - a stalled storm rarely gets to New England), or if it moves slowly enough to wait until the gate opens, then accelerates north (climatologically more plausible), or either splits or becomes baroclinic as it encounters the intense frontal boundary.  The latter seems like the most plausible solution, perhaps feeding flooding in the Southern Mid-Atlantic, with some low-level vorticity shearing east along the front as an open wave.

All of these possibilities hold potential, though at this point I favor the latter.  The GFS Ensemble members, for what it's worth, also favor this solution of a split with the low level center out to sea, and though the Canadian and Euro don't explicitly show this, there is evidence of a split here, too, though the ECMWF spins up a rather backwards secondary coastal low, west of the alleged Kyle, then spins it north up the coast.

Time will tell.  I invite your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Matt


Fall Foliage Report from the Mount Washington Valley for September 18, 2008

North Conway, NH – Mother Nature couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions to create her fall pageant of color in Mt Washington Valley. Cold morning temps combined with shorter days mean that leaves are turning with visable increases in color daily, and the Mount Washington Observatory is calling for perfect leaf peeping weather this weekend.  A high pressure situated overhead will dominate most of the weekend and sunny skies and calm winds will create Indian Summer days, with temperatures rising to the lower to mid sixties Friday and Saturday, but falling to the lower thirties overnight continuing to trigger fall color changes.


Overall, fall colors are beginning to appear in pockets throughout Mt Washington Valley. The red maples ringing Puddin Pond along the North South Road in North Conway are almost peaking. Echo Lake State Park, off Route 302 in North Conway, offers a mirror of spotty reds and oranges, with a few yellows sprinkled in. And nearby the road to the top of at Cathedral Ledge offers panoramic view over the entire Mount Washington Valley. At a higher elevation, color in Crawford and Pinkham Notches is close to 25 percent turned, with patches of intense color on the mountainsides.

 

The Fryeburg Fair kicks off this weekend in Mt Washington Valley, and Conway Scenic Railroad’s Railfan Weekend means special runs, equipment demonstrations and activities for railroading fans.

 

For more information on visiting Mt Washington Valley, visit www.MtWashingtonValley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364) for lodging availability and up-do-date foliage reports.


REVAMPED! THE NEW MATTNOYES.NET

Hello Friends!

The hallmark of this site continues to be what you, the users, want it to be.  I can't thank you enough for your overwhelming response of intelligent, sound guidance on where you'd like to see the site go, and what you'd like to see both here, and on NECN's brand new weather blog.  It's an exciting time for us as an NECN Weather Team - finally a website of our own - and you will find the daily forecast discussion has shifted there, as will many of the pertinent links on this site.  Per your request, however, there's plenty still to find here, and will continue to be.  Here's the breakdown:

The Main Blog Page (MattNoyes.net - you're on it now):  This will now house the majority of topics for the site, and will cover a huge scope.  In-depth, technical discussions if they don't fit appropriately into the NECN Team site, TV related items, musings, answers to questions you or others submit (some you'll find quite amusing), an opportunity for further discussion of various topics, weatherwise and otherwise - everything that appeared on the Meteorology Memos and More and Recreation Pages.  Notice, also, that the radar and other links have been moved here, along with ALL archives from the old pages.  It's all here.  It's all good!  We'll have fun together on this page.

Quick Forecast Page:  No changes here.  Same as it always was - a quick, regional forecast.  Of course, a link to the NECN forecast page is also included.

Latest Discussion/Post:  Links directly to my category page on NECN's Weather Blog, WeatherNewEngland.com.  Everything I post on our Team Blog will appear on this page, including the forecast discussion.

Real-Time Spotter Network:  A number of you requested I organize something where we can all share live, real-time reports during storms and discuss what's going on, as it happens.  Already done!  Though it's waiting for us to get involved and take advantage, NationalWeatherOnline.com is EXACTLY this.  We can send photos/video through Flickr.com to the site (and include description with the Flickr submission), or become full correspondents and write complete posts, questions, analysis, etc.  The only thing it's missing right now is lots of people, so head on over and populate it!  I had a huge hand in its development, so trust me that it's on the straight and narrow - designed purely for sharing info and going to be a ton of fun, on stormy or sunny days!

Weather News Headlines:  Long time readers of my website remember I used to post national and international stories.  Now, I just link to NationalWeatherOnline.com's Weather Headlines Page.  Considering I also play a heavy hand in what stories are there, it's also "all good!"

Out and About:  No change here.  Still can request me or see me in action.  ;)

New England Photo Gallery (Sky Scenes):  Again, no change for now.

Weekly Weather Word Contest:  A direct link to the Weather Word section of our NECN blog.

Current News Headlines:  No change.

Thanks again to all who offered an opinion and/or idea!  You're da best - looking forward to seeing you back here for a long time to come!

-Matt


WITH HIGH PRESSURE IN CHARGE...A POLL OF MATTNOYES.NET USERS REGARDING THE FUTURE OF THIS SITE

Yawwwwn.  The weather recently has been rather dull, and the most excitement in sight is a cold front poised for Wednesday night that will bring a few rain showers to the far North Country - though maybe a few stray flakes to the mountains of Northwest Maine at about 3 or 4 AM!  But...literally a few stray flakes at most.  Then, it's another shot of yawwwwwwwwwnnnnn....dry weather and clear sailing through the weekend.  That's OK by me - a chance to relax a bit.

But it's also a time to think about this site and where you'd like it to go, and I want your opinions - all of them!  I hope you'll comment on this post, or send me an email in response, because your thoughts WILL determine where this site goes.

Background:  I established Mattnoyes.net in college, as a list of links because it was too hard to remember all of the URLs in my head.  After college, I took it down, and got so many emails from folks who were using the links, so up it went again.  A few years ago, it got a major overhaul when NECN didn't have the resources for our own site, and our partnered site, Boston.com, didn't want us putting any weather data on their weather page, because they wanted to keep it solely for the City of Boston, not suburbs or the rest of New England.  Thus, Mattnoyes.net was revamped and reborn.

The Page Now:  You can surf the pages for yourself - forecast, weather analysis, "Out and About" with school visits and community appearance videos, computer guidance links, the tremendously popular Sky Scenes gallery, a news page, and many more.  ALL of this came because you, the users, requested it.

The Current Situation:  NECN has come into the 90s, and is rocketing through the 2000s, thanks to a lot of hard work by folks at the station.  This has meant not only our own great website, but also, as of two weeks ago, our brand new weather blog.  Remember that Mattnoyes.net started because there was no other outlet - is wasn't for revenue or ego or anything else, just to get weather information out.  So, even though it's been years of work, and what amounts to solid weeks of web design, I'm completely understanding that NECN has asked to take most of what's on my site and merge it into theirs.  It's the right team thing to do - even though it could mean discarding years of hard work from this site, and the loss of some ad revenue, it will go to make my team stronger.

So...the question is...where would you like to see this site go?  Take a look at the New NECN Weather Blog.  See what you think.  Then let me know over the course of this quiet weather stretch what you'd like to see this site become.  You have always been the reason it's changed, and the reason it exists in the first place, so it only makes sense that you determine its future.  I will need to decide a new direction for it (or fold it up, if you so decide) very soon.

Some ideas in random order:

  • I post brief weather ideas/questions/points to ponder in different situations, and we all respond via the comments to share forecast thoughts and analysis.
  • I get rid of most of the site entirely.
  • We merge almost all the pages into one homepage, since there will be fewer posts.
  • We make it a blog about what it's like to be a meteorologist in specific situations - ie: thoughts about the forecast, concerns about the presentation of the information, worries about where we could blow the forecast, etc., with a video discussion, or something of that nature.
  • Something else!  You tell me!

Whatever it is, it'll have to be something easy enough for one man to do on his own, and something that wouldn't make sense to have on the NECN Weather Blog, because I need to be sure it's clear my focus is with my team on that site, which is also where most of my energy is expected to be focused in the not-so-distant future.  Having said that, I can tell you that the Computer Guidance Page and Quick Forecast Page will stay for sure on Mattnoyes.net.

I invite you to share any and all of your thoughts in the comments section, even if they are "just can the whole thing, Noyes!" and, like I've done since day one, I will follow your direction.

All My Best - and enjoy the quiet weather!
Matt


CRISP FALL AIR TO LEAD TO NORTHERN FROST AND, FOR SOME, FREEZE

Yesterday's weather depended heavily upon location.  For some, the gusty pre-frontal winds and squall line both showed up, on cue, while for others, nothing but a band of rain arrived.  This was heavily dependent upon where warm air was able to get in - the farther north one was, the tougher it was to get the warm front through, and the farther west one was, the pre-frontal trough that ended up resulting in the squall line for central and eastern Southern New England brought rain to western areas early in the day, cooling the boundary layer and creating a shallow but stable cooler surface dome of air that was not penetrated before frontal passage during the afternoon/evening, which, for some, brought the most significant winds of the day.  For others, damage was done from the squall line.

Nonetheless, it's gone now.  Our attention turns to the very dry and cool airmass that's still advecting into New England on a northwest wind ahead of the anticyclone migrating east out of the Great Lakes.  This high will crest over New England late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.  What this means is that the fair weather cumulus humilus and cumulus mediocris that are developing Wednesday afternoon will melt away as diurnal heating wanes, leaving clear skies.  The winds will quiet quickly with the approach of the high pressure center, and the atmosphere will decouple, leading to rapid temperature drops overnight.  Dewpoints are running in the 40s, but are still dropping in Northern New England and will be in the 30s overnight.  Temps will correspond to these dewpoint values, and frost is likely for most of VT, Northern NH and Central/Northern ME.  Hard freeze seems likely in the deeper valleys of the Greens, Whites and valleys of the Maine mountains.  There also will be a few patches of valley fog, and I suppose a touch of freezing fog is possible in the deepest valleys of Northern NH!

One thing we consider in circumstances like this is whether we need to worry about an isolated dust devil when the temperature warms in the morning.  The principle here is that very dry air expected to warm rapidly will create thermals rapidly early in the day, and the differential heating early in the day can enhance these thermals relative to their surroundings, creating pockets of increased buoyancy.  The high relative humidity where some fog is observed early makes these much less likely, but fog-free areas may warm quickly enough that an isolated dust devil can't be ruled out - though these are extremely difficult to predict in an operational setting.

As the anticyclone drifts east, the corresponding return flow will begin across New England, but only very lightly out of the west-southwest.  This will lead to some weak warm advection, and with the wind speed less than Wednesday, the feel on the body will be more than just a few degrees warmer Thursday afternoon.  Sunshine should be abundant with a deep dry column.

The upcoming weekend features a fast, mostly zonal flow across the Northern Tier of the country.  This means a series of fast-moving shortwaves embedded in the flow that will ride over New England Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Friday's disturbance is late enough, and the moisture return slow enough, that showers are unlikely until evening or Friday night, as warm and moist advection increases, especially in the lowest 10K feet of the atmosphere.  This is likely to result in building, increasing Friday afternoon/evening clouds leading to the shower threat.  The NMM is developing a wave of low pressure with a solid inch of precipitation Friday night.  The GFS is far less pronounced.  The GGEM and many of its Ensemble members continue to favor a prolonged stretch of at times heavy rain this weekend, as moisture from the southern/central US and even some of Ike become entrained into the flow.  I have doubts on both the NMM solution of digging the northern stream shortwave, and with the solution of getting some of Ike involved, at least enough to make a difference for most of the weekend.  Therefore, I like the GFS solution best, which brings some showers through Friday night (lines up well with the warm advection), but keeps the shortwave a bit flatter.  Then, there does seem to be good agreement on the timing of the shortwaves among the guidance, even though the QPF forecasts are different.  So, in the end, I think we're looking at a few showers Fri eve/night, then again with the next shortwave Sat night into early Sunday morning, then maybe again Sunday night.  Of course, this timing is extremely optimistic for the weekend and the meteorologically inclined know that such fast and nearly zonal flow can change timing, but it seems like the best forecast right now, leaving an overall optimistic weekend.  More moisture seems to feed in with each shortwave, but that also seems likely to be cutoff for the middle of the week by a large anticyclone dropping into the midwest and ohio valley.  As that pulls out, the rest of Ike would be open to head up to the Northeast by the end of next week.

Now let's see what reality has planned!!

Matt


QUIET MONDAY TO GIVE WAY TO BUSY WIND, POTENTIAL SEVERE WEATHER TUESDAY

You like the video blog?  This is from the new NECN Weather Blog that launched Friday!  Joe, Tim and I will update it with more in-depth weather information than what we're able to convey in our brief TV weathercasts.  Check it out..and I hope you like it as it continues to grow and expand!

 

BTW - have you seen the piece where I got to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels last week?  It was an AWESOME FLIGHT!!  If you've ever wondered what it's like to fly in a fighter aircraft (we went cloud surfing, too!) you HAVE to check out my post.  It's on the Meteorology Memos and More page, or you can link directly to the post.

Of course, you can continue to get down and dirty with weather info here, too, and with Hanna having come and gone, some may be wondering exactly what transpired with the storm.  The National Weather Service has a terrific list in the Public Info Statements and Storm Reports - a few of which are pasted in the extended body of this post (click "Continue Reading" at the bottom of this post to access it).  Impressive rainfall totals, but wind was lacking for most of New England - as anticipated, the greatest wind stayed southeast of the storm track.  As a result, this Tuesday is likely to be windier for most of New England than Hanna's passage was.

The players in the short term are a bubble of high pressure migrating quickly east from the Ohio Valley that will slide very quickly off our coastline and combine with the Northwest Atlantic ridge to bring building high pressure to the waters east of New England later Monday night into Tuesday.  At the same time, the pronounced cold front moving through the Great Lakes will receive an extra push from the shortwave aloft that's been producing Midwestern showers and thunder - the image here is of the 500 mb vorticity prognosis, illustrating the energy center driving across the Northeast on Tuesday afternoon.  Map1 The interaction of this upper level disturbance with the surface cold front will result in a developing wave of low pressure along the front that will strengthen Monday night into Tuesday while pulling across NY State and into Quebec.  After a quiet Monday, this establishes a pressure gradient force across New England that will yield only a light southwest wind in a weakly mixed atmosphere overnight Monday night (though the wind may limit fog development in Central and Southern New England), but will start cranking once the atmosphere mixes on Tuesday.  In fact, indications are that a low level jet between about 925 and 850 mb should crank from the south and southwest to the tune of 50-60 knots!  Map2 This is incredible velocity not far off the ground, and the sunshine that will make an appearance prior to the arrival of frontal and pre-frontal clouds will mix the atmosphere to about 850 or 870 mb, and that will be plenty to mix these winds down.  As a result, gusts to 45 or 50 mph have to be considered for Tuesday, especially at south facing coastlines and on hilly and mountainous terrain.  Additionally, favored downslope locales on a southwest wind hold the potential for some localized damaging gusts Tuesday afternoon, even with simply sun and building clouds, by virtue of the downward momentum transfer with mixing underway.  Any prefrontal convection that develops will, of course, easily tap these winds, and creating a line or multiple line segments of damaging thunderstorm winds should not be difficult.  The only retarding factor could be the amount of instability, though mean layer CAPE Map3 values are still forecasted to climb to between 500 and 1000 J/kg, which isn't great for a severe weather outbreak under normal circumstances, but the amount of dynamic forcing and kinematic profile of wind will not require much instability to produce damaging storms.  AdditionaMap5lly, the biggest limiting factor to instability normally is lack of sunshine - and while that will be at play with increasing moisture in the mid-levels ahead of the front, the advective properties of the strong southwest wind should be able to force the warm front far north, to near the Canadian border, Map4 thereby allowing warm air to penetrate across most of New England.

Following the front and its associated storms, a crisp airmass carves into New England for later Tuesday night and Wednesday, with Wednesday maximum temps likely to hover in the 60s central and north, and come either side of 70 south where a downsloping wind will help to warm the airmass.  Some instability cumulus are likely with the cool air streaming overhead, as 850 mb temps cool to +2 C!  Map6 Thursday will feature a recovery quickly aloft - with rising heights and a quick rebound at 850 mb, as well, but getting that warmer air in place at the surface may be a bit slower to evolve, so I kept a graduated moderation into the end of the week.  Another front looks primed for a few showers by late Friday, though multiple shortwave ejecting northeast ahead of a digging central US upper low may mean continued showers in the forecast into the start of the upcoming weekend.

Matt

Continue reading "QUIET MONDAY TO GIVE WAY TO BUSY WIND, POTENTIAL SEVERE WEATHER TUESDAY" »


WHAT'S IT LIKE TO FLY WITH THE BLUE ANGELS? I FOUND OUT! YOU CAN SEE THE BLUE ANGELS AT THE GREAT STATE OF MAINE AIR SHOW THIS WEEKEND!

Blue_angel_lineup_full With the Brunswick Naval Air Station hosting the Great State of Maine Air Show this weekend, the Blue Angels have descended upon Brunswick from the team's home at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and will grace the skies with their breathtaking maneuvers through Sunday.  I was fortunate to take flight this week, and get an inside look at just what it's like to be in the cockpit of one of the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, high-performance aircraft.

What an amazing experience!  Lot's of folks have asked if I was nervous before taking flight, and the truth is, with the exception of about 20 seconds, I wasn't!  We started with a briefing and overview from Staff Sergeant Deo Harrypersaud, Crew Chief and Supervisor who keeps the planes in tip-top shape, and got the low-down on what the flight would be like.  Of course, I knew I'd be in the most competent, safest hands I could possibly be in, with one of the best pilots in the country, which is a huge reason I was able to relax completely in the days, hours and minutes leading up to the flight.  The few seconds of nervousness came only once I was strapped into Blue Angel #7 and waiting for my pilot to arrive, and had just a few seconds to sit in the cockpit and process what was going on.  Blue_angel_7 As soon as Lieutenant Frank "Walleye" Weisser walked up to the plane, though, I was reassured and ready to go.  Lt. Weisser was great!  He coached me throughout the flight, and showed me one great time in the skies!  Lt. Weisser was absolutely the best representative the U.S. Navy and Blue Angels could ask for - keeping me at ease and having a blast as we executed loops, rolls, inverted flying, supersonic flight, 6.7G's and more! Matt_and_frank_2    

The Blue Angels – recognized nationwide and seen by 15 million people annually – represent some of the United States' best pilots, dazzling onlookers with power, finesse and mastery of the forces of nature...and of course, the need for speed.  With the video and editing skills of Sean Colahan (seen in this picture, taking shots of the Blue Angels planes), Sean_and_blue_angels_tightI invite you to take a ride with me and Lt. Weisser aboard the F/A-18 Hornet...hang on and enjoy the ride in the video below...and be sure to check out "Walleye" and the rest of the team at the Great State of Maine Air Show in Brunswick, ME, before they leave town!  Want to see more about the Blue Angels?  Associated Press reporter Glenn Adams was covering the team the same day I was, and you can link to his article here.  Wayne Harvey, reporter for WABI-TV in Bangor, ME, was also on-hand and in the air, and you can see his report by clicking here.


FRIDAY AFTERNOON BRIEF THOUGHTS ON HANNA

* Station NKT, Cherry Point, NC, gusted to 47 mph last hour. This was in an outer rain band, away from the center of the storm, but in convection.  So there's still wind to be had well outside of the center, but you have to look a bit harder to find it as overall obs north of the center have dropped off a bit as Hanna continues to become more tropical.

* Satellite imagery indicates a storm very close to hurricane force.  The center has tightened noticeably and become far more symmetric, and Hanna is borderline hurricane.  Though deep convection continues to fire around her center, it is lobed in appearance, and she is running out of time to get her act together.  Unless recon comes back with a hurricane force gust, it will be hard for NHC to make that call to upgrade, I would think, given both satellite and surface estimates are just below threshold.  Nonethless, Hanna has some time before she hits land and the water is in the mid 80s, so she may still achieve minimal hurricane status - logically, I would think she should be able to do it.

* Not much change to the thinking - would guess Tropical Storm watches will extend to Plymouth, MA in the eve or night package given good agreement on storm crossing New London, CT, to Quincy, MA.  Gusts to between 60 and 70 seem like the best bet southeast of the track.  3"-6" northwest of the track.  A few spots of localized flooding.